Three arrested in Modesto robbery spree; investigation continues

01/15/2013 8:33 AM

06/26/2013 2:32 PM

Investigators on Tuesday continued to look into a string of armed robberies — even as one of the businesses was hit a second time.

Modesto police arrested three people in connection with some of the robberies; investigators were trying to determine whether the remaining incidents were connected.

Six robberies occurred in and around Modesto from 5 p.m. Monday to noon Tuesday:

At 5:17 p.m., two men held up Millennium Food and Liquor in the 500 block of Sycamore Avenue in Modesto.

At 5:30 p.m., two men held up Golden West Market in the 2600 block of Paradise Road.

At 8 p.m., a man held up Country Market in the 2400 block of West Hatch Road.

At 8:33 p.m., two men held up Viva Market in the 1300 block of Paradise Road.

At 8:45 p.m., a man held up GameStop in the 3500 block of McHenry Avenue.

At roughly 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, another holdup was reported at that GameStop, which is in the Barnes & Noble and Ross shopping center at McHenry and Standiford.

Investigators believe the same people committed the Millennium, Golden West and Viva robberies. The other incidents Monday involved a single robber who didn't match the description witnesses provided, Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Anthony Bejaran said.

The two men involved in the three connected robberies were described as Latinos, one in a black shirt and the other in a shirt with a rhino on it. One man watched the door while the other demanded money; they escaped from each incident with an undisclosed amount of cash.

At 9:12 p.m. Monday, the Modesto police gang unit saw a black Volvo near Carpenter and Hatch roads. Witnesses to the Viva Market holdup described a similar car used in that robbery.

Modesto police Sgt. Ivan Valencia said officers arrested Antonio Valencia, 21, Raul Valencia, 22, and Patricio Sandoval, 18, all of Modesto.

"Inside, (officers) found property taken in some of the robberies," the sergeant said. Police found a handgun they believe the men used.

Police are seeking three men in robberies at GameStop.

The GameStop robber on Monday evening took money and electronics after ordering employees onto the ground, said police Lt. Scott Blom. He is described as a Latino wearing a brown hooded sweat shirt and jeans.

Two men robbed the same store Tuesday. The first was described as a Latino wearing a black hooded sweat shirt with a white bandanna covering his face and armed with a small handgun. The second was a black man wearing a white or gray hooded sweat shirt, gray sweat pants and a black bandanna. He was carrying a black duffel bag, Blom said.

Investigators said they do not believe the GameStop robberies were related.

Early Tuesday, another man was arrested in Modesto, suspected of committing a robbery at the Starbucks at Oakdale Road and Merle Avenue on Sunday night, Blom said. Ryan Joseph Lockman, 28, was arrested in the area of Plaza Parkway and Prescott Road about 4 a.m.

Bejaran said having so many robberies in such a short time is highly unusual. "It was certainly a busy night for our graveyard deputies," he said about Monday.

The reason behind the rash, if there is one, isn't clear.

"Over the years, we have had what we call robbery crews in the county," Bejaran said. Some of those crews have ties to gangs — detectives will be trying to determine whether that was the case as they track down those suspected in the other robberies.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy contributed to this report.

Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.

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